USD 383 closes Friday due to staff shortages

Kris Long, Print Editor-in-Chief

The USD 383 school district has canceled school tomorrow due to a shortage of staff, including classified – non-licensed staff such as custodians, food service and transportation workers  – and teaching positions. 

“​​Right now we are concerned with our staff shortages,” Director of School Communications and Safety Michele Jones said. “We’re not having the amount of staff we need to continue.”

The closure comes amid the wave of COVID-19 variant omicron cases circulating Manhattan High and the rest of the district. USD 383 is currently dealing with 85 staff absences and a lack of substitutes to make up the difference. 

“Just the amount of illness, whether it’s COVID, or flu, or just, common cold,” Jones said. “It’s all going around right now, and it’s hitting us and school districts across the country hard.”

The district is using a weather day – one of three allowed before needing the state to grant an exemption – rather than a remote learning day, so students are not expected to attend remote classes.

“We have built in weather days in our calendar,” Jones said. “We have not used any of them yet this year. And, right now, we are just not set up to go remote. And since we have these days, we felt that this was the best way to use one of [them].”

As of Thursday, school has only been canceled for Friday, making a four-day weekend as Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There are currently no plans released for additional mitigation methods in schools following the break.

“We will continue with all the mitigation that we have been doing up to this point,” Jones said. “I’m not sure what else there is that we could do. There’s only so much space in a school to spread out… we have done a good job. It is just this wave of illness going through right now that has really affected not only schools, [but] lots of businesses.”